Outsoles have always been and still are the key for Icebug
When talking about “rubber outsoles” for performance footwear, it’s actually not more than maximum a few percent natural rubber. The rest is oil based materials and chemicals, and the process of vulcanizing the rubber in the outsoles requires a lot of energy. As we know of, there is unfortunately not yet any realistic option to use.
Outsoles have always been and still are key for Icebug when it comes to solve the problem of slipping. As traction experts, we are continually working to get the best possible grip from our rubber compound. From a sustainability perspective, the most important part of the outsole is the abrasion performance. Since the outsole is directly subject to wearing, it often translates directly into the lifetime of the entire shoe. When the sole is gone, the shoe is done.
Today we can't find an “industry standard” for abrasion resistance (which is rather annoying when communicating durability, as an outsole with durability significantly over the standard would add a dimension of sustainability). However, there are standardized test methods, and we continuously test competitors alongside Icebug and specify our products on the highest range.
For example, Icebug RB9X compound is not only one of the most grippy compounds for dry and wet surfaces, but it also has an abrasion below Din 120, which is extremely durable. We also put a lot of effort into designing and testing, to make sure that the product gets the best possible amount of material in the right place. In this way, we can secure a longer lifetime. In rubber, all components need to work together to create the performance. By having a long relationship with our supplier, we have built confidence in selecting the best possible raw materials.
To secure that non-harmful materials are used, the Swedish organization Swerea monitors this process. In order to reduce waste from production during the vulcanization and trimming process, we have also invested in a recycling project. This will allow us to almost eliminate all waste from production and use 20% of waste materials in the making of all new BUGrip outsoles for the Fall/Winter 2019 collection. This means that 20% less new resources will be needed for every sole production, without compromising grip or abrasion.